The Year in Review For 2016, Part One

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

For most, the year 2016 will go down in memory as one which brought with it one of the most contentious political seasons in history. Here on the local scene, the region said goodbye to a number of prominent leaders, while a new generation poised to make their marks on the world. The early months of 2016 also brought with it the drama of winter and spring sports, as several local teams made an impact.

This week we review the happenings, and images, of the early part of the previous year as brought to you on the pages of the Clay County Times-Democrat.

January

The new year brought with it the first Rector City Council as they discussed possible uses of the armory, and reviewed a request to turn it over to the school district. New laws went into effect, including those dealing with driver's licenses and state income tax rates.

In sports, Marmaduke's Lady Greyhounds fell to ICC in the finals of the NEA tournament, while the Lady Mohawks advanced in the Kell Classic over Augusta. The Lady Cougars dropped their first round Kell Classic game to Southside. The girls rebounded with a win over BIC at home. As for the Cougar boys, they beat Hoxie then fell to Bay.

Medical issues were cited in connection with a spectacular crash on East Main in Piggott in mid-January, as a car driven by Kenneth Bradshaw, 51, of Pollard struck a building causing heavy damage. Sad news to report this week, with the death of longtime local farmer and businessman Junior Rouse at age 83.

The Rector School Board extended Fowler's contract at their regular meeting, while an extension for Superintendent Charlie Powell was tabled at the Piggott meeting. A meeting was also held to review flood damage hosted by Judge Gary Howell. Advance tickets are now on sale for the Clay County Arts Council's Night of Chocolate, and, entries are being sought for the Ryan Rogers Memorial Chili Cook-Off.

In sports, football Cougars garnering post season honors were Garrett Buck, Lawson Ford, Danny Hager, Bam Westbrook, Huston Highfill, Brian Hufty and Chase Jackson. In hoops action, the Mohawks remained on a hot streak the Lady Cougars swept Marked Tree on the road and the PHS girls fell to Hoxie in the Kell Classic. Meanwhile, the Marmaduke girls rolled over Riverside to extend the home winning streak to 31.

The third week of January brought with it homecoming for both PHS and RHS, with both teams slated to play Friday, Jan. 22. This week's included a feature on the joint effort between the Clay County Conservation District and Natural Resources Conservation Service to trap feral hogs.

The recent flooding damage was the subject of yet another meeting, as FEMA and ADEM officials were on hand to discuss the impact. Congrats to Natalie Blake of Piggott, winner of the Clay County Spelling Bee. Just a fifth grader, she was joined in the top-three by another fifth grader from PES as Madison Arenaz earned the honor. Second was Rector eighth grader Zane McNeeley.

The local Make-A-Wish volunteers have been busy, and have several fundraisers scheduled including the second annual daddy-daughter dance at the Piggott Community Center.

In sports, the Lady Cougars dropped a pair in conference with losses to Riverside and Earle, while the Lady Mohawks were in action against Missouri teams in the First National Bank Invitational at Corning. They posted a win over Malden, then fell to Naylor and Doniphan.

Late January brought the sad news of the death of prominent Rector businessman Byron Underwood at age 85. A Korean War Veteran of the U.S. Navy, he had owned and operated Underwood Furniture for many years. On the brighter side, Piggott's Grayden Dalton was chosen to serve as the UCP Telethon poster child.

The Piggott City Council met and approved the amended budget, and heard an update on efforts to repair the community center roof. The Rector City Council approved the refinancing of water and sewer revenue bonds at their meeting.

Those interested in seeking public office were also reminded of the change of date for the annual primary, as it will be held the first Tuesday in March. Rector's Jon Bradshaw was honored recently as recipient of the first-ever American Hero quilt, presented by the Bias Bunch Quilters of Mountain Home.

Members of the Quorum Court approved incentive pay for employees at their regular meeting, thanks to unbudgeted funds.

Winter Storm Jonas forced some postponements to the high school hoops season, and among those games was the Mohawk homecoming contest with Rivercrest. Meanwhile, the Lady 'Hounds overcame a slow start to beat BIC, the Lady Mohawks stumbled at Hoxie and the Cougars fell despite an early lead to Riverside.

The Rector City Council discussed infrastructure issues at their regular meeting. The Piggott School District also announced the make-up days from the recent winter storm. The CCAC Night of Chocolate is at hand, and will feature the murder-mystery comedy "Murder at the Pie Auction."

This week also brought the news that recent Supreme Court action affecting juvenile sentencing will impact Aaron Hodge, who was convicted in the 1995 triple murder of his family in Rector.

Rector Downtown Central members brainstormed at their first meeting of the year, and Piggott native Kristen "Tuff" Scott is a cast member of Redneck Island on CMT. Gov. Asa Hutchinson has submitted a request for a disaster declaration for Clay County, and several others, due to the recent flooding. Richard Simmons will be featured at the upcoming History Luncheon in Rector, speaking on the history of local agriculture.

Congrats to PHS grad Austin Murray, as he hit a half-court shot at the Mohawk homecoming game and earned a $5,000 prize from Piggott State Bank. The Piggott Ironworkers are also having a strong season, competing in weight events.

Topping sports news, Rector golf standout Kade Scott has signed to continue his education--and play golf, for Crowley's Ridge College. The talented Cougar was coming off his second 2A state golf title in a row.

February

Fire destroyed the home of Robert and Stephanie Jett in early February, but luckily no one was injured. A feature on the impact of the Single Parent Scholarship Fund was also shared, as board member Duane Dutka found himself being treated by recipient Mia Bowen, LPN, at PCH.

RHS band students garnering All-Region honors this year includes Blake Larue, Danielle Ballew and Rhonda Walker. The Piggott School Board approved purchases, reviewed energy savings at their meeting, while the Rector board re-hired principals and discussed refinancing.

The Daddy-Daughter dance for Make-A-Wish was a big success in Piggott, and Marmaduke students conducted a change drive. The disaster declaration sought by Gov. Hutchinson due to the flooding was also approved by President Obama.

Looking back a week, the RHS Homecoming King and Queen were Lawson Ford and Hannah Huggins while PHS Homecoming Queen was Devyn Staples and the Lady Mohawk Beau was Logan Dixon.

In sports, the area hoops teams wrapped up regular season play and moved into their respective district tournaments. The RHS boys fell to Marmaduke and BIC in late season play, while the junior boys fell to Marked Tree in their first round tourney game. The Mohawk boys beat Osceola in the conference finale, while the Greyhounds fell to Earle at home. The Lady Cougars also fell to BIC, as the Lady 'Hounds wrapped up the conference title with a win over Earle. As for the Mohawk junior boys and girls, they both fell in the first round of the district at Corning.

Mid-February brought the news that the CCAC fundraiser was a big success, benefitting their scholarship effort. Early voting also got underway in the primary election, with two key county races. The primary for sheriff includes incumbent Terry Miller and former sheriff Gerald McClung, while Jeff Young is taking on Mike Patterson for Clay County Judge.

Grady Clement, of Rector, has been charged in connection with a robbery of the Rector Harp's store. Organizers of the Piggott Heritage Car Show announced several change for the May event. The PHS chapter of the FBLA made a strong showing at district, and will compete at state.

The Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Pumpkin Hollow were both finalist for the 16th annual Delta Awards.

In sports, Kade Scott was presented with his second 2A state golf championship ring during senior night at RHS as the Cougars hosted the Mohawks. On this night the visitors were better, as they took both the senior girls and boys contests over the host Cougars. The Piggott boys then closed out the season with a win over Marmaduke, as they marked senior night.

In post season play, the RHS junior girls were eliminated by Riverside, with Mylesa Gant named All-Conference. The Junior Lady 'Hounds were runner-ups to Earle. Meanwhile, the Lady Cougars fell to Cross County, and the Lady Mohawks were eliminated in OT by Osceola. The Tribe fared much better, beating Hoxie and earning a spot in the regional tourney in the process.

The Piggott City Council reviewed Mayor Jim Poole's "State of the City" address at their February meeting. Local chapters also marked FFA Week, and the Have-A-Heart Wish-A-Thon efforts were a big success.

In sports, congrats to Lady Mohawk multi-sport standout MaKalia Beck, as she's signed a letter of intent to play volleyball for Crowley's Ridge College. In hoops, the Cougars ended their season in the district as they fell to Riverside. The Piggott boys made it to the district semi, falling to eventual champion Osceola and are headed to the regional. The Marmaduke Greyhounds took Cross County in OT in their district contest, but fell. And, in a huge upset Earle beat Marmaduke in the district at Marked Tree, but the Lady 'Hounds still qualify for the regional at Sloan-Hendrix.

March

Turnout was heavy for the primary election, with Mike Patterson edging Jeff Young for county judge and Terry Miller beating Gerald McClung for sheriff. Area One Special Olympics hosted the annual basketball competition at PHS. And, the Ryan Rogers Memorial Chili Cook-Off was a big success, with Kim Isom named winner of the first-ever People's Choice Award.

Congrats to Pumpkin Hollow, as they were recipients of the Delta Byways award. And, Marmaduke is bustling as the 2A state basketball tournament is set to get underway. Local organizers have announced a special 60th anniversary celebration of the filming of "A Face in the Crowd" for later this year in Piggott.

In sports, the Mohawks advanced in the regional at Yellville with a win over Flippin, thanks to a last second put-back by Peyton Mann. The win insures the Tribe a spot in the upcoming 3A state tourney, where they fell in the first round. Meanwhile, the Lady 'Hounds fell in OT to Tuckerman in the regional at Imboden, and were eliminated from post season play. And, with the hoops seasons winding down it's time for baseball and softball, as the Cougars and Lady Mohawks swing into action. Finally, WBC announced they were adding a track program and will be recruiting.

PES principal Leann Mann announced her resignation in early March, as she would be leaving the local district at the end of the year. Meanwhile, the Rector City Council was informed the state had approved funding for street improvements.

Coming off their successful fundraiser, the Clay County Arts Council was set to host a youth art show. The Friends of Pfeiffer's trip to Cuba was announced, and a story was featured on the Boydsville Community Center and the role it plays. Little Mr. and Miss Rector candidates were also reviewed.

In sports, the local baseball and softball teams swung into their seasons. The Mohawk Ironworker weight lifting team took first place in the meet at Hoxie, Shawn-Hudson Seegraves celebrated his top ranking in the state in his age group and this year's WBC baseball team includes several local players, including PHS grad Tanner Murray and MHS grads Hayden Winberry and Morgan Hawley.

A million-dollar track and turf project was pitched to the Piggott School Board at their meeting. Meanwhile, the Rector board handled a variety of matters, including the retirement resignation of reading teacher Kathy Fowler. The RHS band has also made school history, scoring a superior rating at the assessments in Jonesboro. And, young artists from across the county were recognized at the CCAC youth art show.

Little Mr. and Miss Rector were crowned at the alumni game, and include Pacey Brooks Vangilder and Shane Daniel Branson. The Marmaduke School Board also renewed contracts, and accepted retirement resignations, at their meeting. Congrats to Bailey Hoots, of Rector High, as she took third in the NEA Regional Math Contest. And, Jane Gatewood shared the story of Fred Bucy's massive home construction effort.

In sports, post-season honors for the basketball Mohawks included Braelyn Rhodes and Devyn Staples for the girls and Brayden Brewer, Nicholas Harris and Quinton Mauldin for the boys. And, the Lady Cougar softball team swept a double header with Cross County to begin their season. Meanwhile, the RHS baseball team also posted a win over the Thunderbirds in the past week.

The Piggott Heritage Car Show is still accepting early entries for the May event, and will be raffling off a restored 1961 Murray pedal car at the event. The ninth annual ALE Spring Fest was held at PHS, and it was announced the local Farmer's Market would host a meeting on March 28.

The Marmaduke Council addressed issues with water service for ARI at their meeting, and Rector Downtown Central has planned an evening meeting to get input. John Jacob's Next Generation Power Force Ministry is also appearing at Oasis Church in St. Francis.

In sports, Mohawk standout Logan Dixon signed a letter of intent to attend, and play football, at Harding University in Searcy. In baseball action, the Cougars came from behind to beat the Mohawks at Independence Park as they move to 6-0 on the season.

As March drew to a close the Proudest Kid in Piggott essay winners were named, with William Lucas taking first place. The Piggott City Council also approved street improvements at their meeting, and it was announced the Rector Cougar baseball team will play a game in Redbird Stadium in Memphis.

Rector Postmaster James Marshall retired in March, and the CCAC announced the upcoming giant puppet theater event at the Rector Community Center.

In sports, another signing for a Mohawk athlete, but this time PHS senior Shelby Morgan has inked a letter to attend Frank Phillips College in Texas to compete in rodeo events. The baseball Cougars are still on a roll, as they moved to 8-1 overall and 3-0 in conference play. Two Lady Mohawks have been invited to play in the Queens of the Hardwood All Star Volleyball Match in Jonesboro, as both MaKalia Beck and Holly Boyd were included in the outstanding seniors in the area.

(The story in the print edition of the CCTD also includes several photos from the early part of 2016)

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